Ski jumping 101: Equipment


Equipment used in Olympic ski jumping is the same that an athlete would use throughout the World Cup circuit.

Ski jumping skis: The maximum length of a competitor’s skis is 145% of his height. However, if an athlete’s body mass index (BMI) is under 21, then the skier must shorten his skis in relation to FIS regulations. To calculate the BMI, multiple the ski jumper’s weight in pounds by 703 then divide that by his height in inches squared. Jumping skis are very light, but must have a minimum weight conforming to their length, in the ratio of 100 centimeters (39.37 inches) to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds).

Bindings: The binding must be mounted parallel to the run-direction and must be placed so that a maximum of 57 percent of the entire ski length is before the bindings. They are meant to unfasten from the boots in case of a fall.

Boots: The boots used in ski jumping are designed to allow the skier to lean forward during the flight. They are high-backed, flexible yet firm with a low cut at the front.

Connection cord: The connection cord, which is part of the binding, attaches the ski to the boot and prevents the skis from wobbling during flight.

Ski jumping suit: All portions of the ski jumping suit must be made of the same, spongy microfiber material and must show certain air permeability. The thickness of the suit must be bewteen 4.0 millimeters and 6.0 mm (about one-fifth of one inch). The suits must conform to the body shape in an upright position with a maximum tolerance of 2 centimeters to the body size at any part of the suit. Exceptions are the anterior sleeve length and the anterior crotch length, where the maximum tolerance is 4 centimeters.

The most common reason for disqualification is having a suit with insufficient air permeability. At the 2006 Olympics, Norwegian ski jumpers Lars Bystoel and Sigurd Pettersen were disqualified after the first round of the normal hill competition for that reason. (Bystoel was later reinstated and went on to win the gold medal.)

Gloves: The inner side of most ski jumping gloves is made of goat leather, while the outer side must be made of the same microfiber material as the suit. They are fastened with a velcro tape around the wrist.

Helmet: Full head protection has been compulsory since the 1980s. The helmet improves aerodynamic flight and protects the head in case of a fall.

Goggles: All jumpers use eye protection to prevent tearing of the eyes.

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